The story behind Calgary’s Motherlode Coffee

It’s coffee for a cause and it’s at a coffee shop near you

By Krista Sylvester | December 23, 2021 |6:00 am

Motherlode Coffee founders Karissa Savage, left, and Frieda Cornejo

Photo: Submitted

Calgary-based Motherlode Coffee Roasters was founded by the only female and LGBTQ2+ coffee roaster team in the city, Karissa Savage and Frieda Cornejo. The pair wanted to make a difference in the coffee world by roasting unique flavours and by giving back to charities that target gender equality, an issue that is near and dear to their hearts. 

The duo came up with the coffee for a cause concept because they “absolutely love coffee” and they also wanted to find a way to give back to charities that aligned with their core values as a company. They want their customers to know that they, too, are making a difference in other people’s lives every single time they drink their cup of coffee.

We talked to the powerhouses behind Motherlode Coffee about their Buy a Bag, Grow a Mind program and the No Closets Pride blend that gives back to the End of the Rainbow Foundation, as well as what keeps fueling their passion for coffee and community. 

Motherlode Coffee
Motherlode Coffee

What is your product or service and what makes it unique?

“Our product is freshly roasted specialty coffee and what makes us unique is not just the coffee with a cause story but the fantastic flavours that emerge from our single origin Peruvian beans. We have a direct connection with Peru as one of our founders was born and raised in Lima. She could not find a delicious cup of Peruvian coffee anywhere in Calgary so that’s why we had to create it.” 

Why did you choose this community for your business?

“We created the Buy a Bag, Grow a Mind program where proceeds from the purchase of each bag go to empowering Peruvian women through post-secondary education. As well, for every No Closets Pride bag purchased, proceeds of each sale go to an organization in Calgary called The End of the Rainbow Foundation. They assist LGBTQ2+ refugees that have been persecuted in their home countries because of their sexual identity and sexual orientation. We chose these communities for a lot of personal reasons. Gender inequality has been a big part of our stories both being females and part of the LGBTQ+ community. We feel so fortunate that we are able to go after our dreams and do what we love, so we wanted to be able to do our part to help pave the way for other women and LGBTQ+ individuals.”

How did your business fair during the pandemic? Did you have to pivot? How are you doing now?

“We have been very fortunate to be a business that was created during the pandemic. If anything, 2020 taught us to follow our dreams and not wait to pursue that entrepreneurial fire that lives within us. We have had to pivot a couple of times by not just focusing on cafes, grocery stores, and restaurants to sell our coffee but by also focusing on our direct to consumer business by creating coffee subscriptions and doing deliveries right to customers doorsteps. There has definitely been a lot of trial and error and learning from every single experience. We are thrilled to be where we are and are eager to keep growing.”

What makes your community special and how have they supported you?

“Our community is really special. We have had many customers reach out to us personally to pledge their support to Motherlode Coffee because they really resonate with our story and the social responsibility behind our brand. There are so many amazing stories we hear about why our customers purchase our coffee. We have had people buy our Pride coffee so that they could share it with their child that just came out to them. Or from people that have travelled to Peru and were able to witness the challenges women go through on a daily basis. Needless to say, our community has been very supportive and has been able to see our vision of creating a coffee brand representing more than just coffee.”

How do you see your business contributing to the Calgary community in the next 5 to 10 years? 

“We see our business being influential in changing gender equality and being a household name where everyone knows our story and our mission. We want people to see our coffee on the shelves and instantly know that they are connecting with a powerful community. We want to solidify partnerships with cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores that sell or serve our coffee, which will, in turn, let our common customers know they are safe and able to be their authentic selves there.”

How would you describe Calgary’s small business community?

“Calgary’s small business community is impactful and inspirational. We attend a lot of markets and trade shows where we are able to be surrounded by several small businesses that each have fantastic stories and ideas. Calgary has a great small business community that is open to new businesses and collaborating with each other to get ahead and gain more exposure. Also, consumers have been super supportive as well and willing to support local new emerging businesses.”

How do you define community?

“We would define the word community by saying it is a unified, passionate, cohesive group of individuals with common values and belief structures. A community supports and creates foundations that other members of the community can build on. These interactions lead to invaluable connections and impactful relationships.” 

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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